A Florida state senator has apologised to his African-American colleagues after insulting them and using a racial slur during a bar-room chat with them.
Joe Negron, the senate president who also was insulted in Artiles' tirade, said he found the situation appalling. Artiles used the n-word to refer to the senators who supposedly helped Negron become senate president.
Mr Artiles reportedly used insults and profanity against African-American Senators Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale. "I'm very respectful to everyone", Gibson told the Herald.
The Florida Legislative Black Caucus, which includes seven senators and 21 state representatives, issued a letter Wednesday calling for the Senate Rules Committee to begin the process of ousting Artiles from the Senate. In 2014, when he was a state representative, Artiles was secretly recorded at a polling place using an anti-Muslim slur, as reported by the Miami Herald. "He's attacked Muslims with the same fervor he's now demeaning African Americans, and it can not stand".
"I stand up before all of you, every one of you, and with great humility, I ask for your forgiveness", Artiles said. During the course of that conversation, Gibson said that Artiles referred to her as a "f- a-le" and a "b-".
"I thought parts of his apology today were not good enough", Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said.
Artiles pointed to his upbringing in Hialeah, a working class, heavily Hispanic neighborhood, as the justification for his use of the word.
Politico reports that Thurston arranged a meeting between the two for Tuesday morning so Artiles could apologize, but he didn't show up.
Artiles is expected to formally apologize to Gibson Thursday on the Senate floor, Negron announced.
"I grew up in a diverse community. What I had was a heated debate with a colleague and I basically apologized for that", Artiles said.
"My comments to you were the most regretful of all, because they injured you personally", Artiles continued.
I was appalled to hear that one Senator would speak to another in such an offensive and reprehensible manner.
Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, was removed from a committee chairmanship shortly after his public mea culpa. Republican senators have also condemned Artiles but have stopped short of calling for his resignation.
The Black Caucus plans to meet Wednesday and address the media in the afternoon.